King Harry plans

PUBLISHED: 13:19 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

SIR — I entirely agree with Susie Bee s anger (Herts Advertiser, September 17) that somebody who does not live in the area can come in and overrule the elected council s decision on what shall be constructed or not in St Albans. This evening (September 21

SIR - I entirely agree with Susie Bee's anger (Herts Advertiser, September 17) that somebody who does not live in the area can come in and overrule the elected council's decision on what shall be constructed or not in St Albans.

This evening (September 21) the council's Plans Central Committee for the third time in four years rejected proposals to build on King Harry Lane Playing Fields.

All councillors of all parties (except one who abstained) voted against the proposals and the main reason for refusal was the complete absence of any plan to alleviate the already massive traffic problems which exist along the King Harry Lane and at the two junctions - Bluehouse Hill and the King Harry pub.

Even the developer in the council officer's report accepted that off-site improvements to alleviate traffic problems at this junction would be critical in determining whether development at this site would be acceptable.

Policy 31 of the council's approved district plan states that "the King Harry Junction Improvement must not detract seriously from the environment of this part of the St Albans Conservation Area".

Of course all this is a repeat of what happened in 2006. Then the developer after the first refusal decided to split the application into two parts and go first for planning permission for the part immediately adjacent to King Harry Lane.

He even included an old folks' home for which the council is known to have a great need.

But in 2007 the council still unanimously rejected the proposal.

So then the developer plays his trump card. He lodges an appeal. The residents by voluntary subscription contribute £5,500 to pay for a barrister. In 2008 an inspector from Bristol comes in and overturns the council's decision. Permission granted.

And there is every possibility that this will happen again in 2010, not only on this issue but on the freight terminal etc., etc. And it is happening all over the country. So much for democracy at work.

Is it surprising that the turnout of the public at last night's meeting was minimal compared to the hundreds who turned out for the first planning meeting in 2006?

Nevertheless I would like to thank the councillors for making a stand and being prepared to go through yet another appeal.

BARRIE MORT

Chairman of Verulam Residents Association

Westfields, St Albans

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